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Smh Good Living Review

December 8, 2009

IN THE not-too-distant future, I hope we’ll look back on the current fad for grain-fed beef and wonder what all the fuss was about. I suspect we’ll also feel a little ashamed about the resources squandered to produce it when grass-fed beef offers more flavour.
Mumu Grill has already come to that conclusion. Chef Craig Macindoe’s menu is a proclamation of sustainable farming practices. If you vote Green but eat meat, here’s a place to salve your conscience.
The beef is grass-fed. The lamb is raised on a diet of old man saltbush, a native shrub that’s drought resistant and helps with salinity. The chicken is organic.
Remember Bangalow Sweet Pork (it helped reignite an interest in pork before the ‘‘next big thing’’ distracted many chefs)? You’ll find it here, in the 15-hour slow-roasted shoulder. A manifesto of the restaurant’s principles hangs by the front door.
If Rockpool Bar and Grill is the Ferrari of steakhouses, Mumu Grill is the family station wagon. It’s relaxed and child-friendly, right down to plastic cow-print cups and a decent under-12s menu. Grown-ups can amuse themselves with tapas. The menu – in a tacky plastic sleeve folder like a school-leaver’s resume (the spelling just as poor) – kicks off with small bar snacks, including three types of jamon.
There are a lot of brown proteins. This isn’t tofu town. Even the enjoyable baby spinach and pine nut salad ($12.90) with a sweet lime dressing is laced with dried prosciutto. Sometimes the food tries to do too much, masking the quality of the produce but, for the most part, it’s easygoing, generous and enjoyable. However, if I’m going to spend $25 on streaky slices of jamon iberico de bellota, the king of hams from acorn-fed black pigs roaming Spain’s oak forests, then I don’t want its fabled flavour cloaked in olive oil.
Curls of mild, sichuan-pepper coated king prawns with a pickled chilli and soy dressing ($12) are easy to scoff and, despite a slightly heavy batter, a pair of zucchini flowers ($7.90) stuffed with herbed ricotta and cabra – a Spanish goat’s milk cheese – are an appealing mix of salty and creamy, with the acidity and sweetness of tomato sauce completing the picture.
Mumu Grill occupies the former Red Centre pizzeria site. It’s a comely yet plain room of sassafras veneer panelling hosting a mural of cartoonish cows, pigs and red hearts. At the other end, a 10-metre long bar hosts the cocktail crowd. There’s a large outdoor dining area.
The wine advice doesn’t get much more sophisticated than “it’s nice” but our waitress scurries away to check the name of one she liked. It’s the Bowen Estate ’07 cabernet ($69). Good taste, Miss. The service is good-natured, if occasionally under-staffed.
Most of the steaks are tampered with in some way – a crust of this or wrapped in that. They arrive with squeaky green beans, mash or chips.
A 400-gram sirloin ($39.50) crusted with PNG coffee and sichuan pepper is a good idea in theory but it reminds me of licking grinds from a coffee pot. The beef is lovely and perfectly cooked to medium-rare but the coffee renders it relentlessly gritty.
The most fun is found in the slow-cooked foods. Anyone who loves finger-lickin’ flesh will delight in the ribs. The combo ($35) delivers beef short ribs and baby back pork ribs coated in a fruity, house-made barbecue sauce that favours pork more. It’s a joy pulling soft, flaky and sticky meat from the bones.
Flavourful saltbush lamb cooked two ways ($32) delivers lovely, pink, grilled back strap on a minty pea puree and slow-roasted shoulder on a plinth of cheesy cauliflower gratin, with a whole roast tomato separating the two contestants. It’s comforting and homely.
The mixed dessert plate ($28), a heaving mass of sugar rush in three parts, won’t win a beauty contest but should sate any lingering gluttony. You can try each dessert separately but why not have it all? Brown-sugar pavlova is a wonderful mix of textures and balanced sweetness, even if the accompanying pineapple is almost as tart as the passionfruit. Wattleseed ice-cream with a chocolate and raspberry square is a little icy, however it’s overlooked for the reassuring gingerbread and mascarpone sandwich.
Mumu Grill is perfect for a fun family outing or a catch-up with mates. It’s a bit spartan for a date but then it’s probably best you don’t eat ribs in front of a potential partner if you want a sustainable relationship.

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 8, 2009 8:48 am

    I found your blog on MSN Search. Nice writing. I will check back to read more.

    Eric Hundin

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